How to Appeal Your Property Taxes
You probably checked your mailbox recently to find a notice about your home’s property taxes from Summit County. Did the amount the county assessed your home for seem low or high?
If the county has under-assessed your house, fear not. This has no bearing on the actual market value and only means that you’ll be paying less in taxes. Rejoice!
However, if the county has over-assessed your house, you may end up paying more in property taxes than you owe. Here’s my guide on how to appeal your property taxes so you don’t overpay in 2018.
Property assessments 101
First things first, do you even need to file an appeal? County Assessor Steve Martin appraises properties by studying the market, your property, and its current condition. There are many factors that can affect your assessment, such as:
- The housing market. If the market grows, your home’s value may increase. Obviously, the inverse is also true.
- Home improvements. If you add a new bathroom or an addition, your property value will likely increase.
- A property’s condition. If your property has fallen into disrepair, the value will decrease.
- Your residency status. Second homeowners are charged higher property taxes than primary residents.
The assessor’s methodology to arrive at an accurate assessment based on your property and the above factors, however, is far from foolproof. The National Taxpayers Union estimates that between 30-60% of taxable property in US is over-assessed!
Have you been over-assessed?
One red flag is if you just bought your home this year and haven’t made any significant changes to it, yet your assessment is higher than what you paid.
Basically, if you can prove any of the following, then you have grounds to appeal your property taxes, according to the International Association of Assessment Officers:
- The county has incorrect info about your property. For example, they list four bedrooms when you really only have three. Or you have a shed, and they call it a barn. Or maybe they just got the square footage wrong.
- The estimated value is too high. If you can prove that other comparable properties in your area have sold recently for less, than you may have a case.
- The estimated value isn’t fair. Essentially, this means that the value maybe accurate, but isn’t equitable because other similar properties are valued lower.
Another possibility is that the assessor has incorrectly categorized you as a second homeowner. This has happened before in Summit County, and I’m sure it will happen again. Be sure to check that your residency status is correct, especially if you just moved here from out of state.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes
If you believe you can prove that your property has been over-assessed or that you’ve been wrongly categorized, you have until Friday, September 15 to file an appeal.
In your appeal, you should provide evidence to back up your case, such as the correct specs of your property and/or the valuations of several similar properties. You also need to include a copy of the valuation you received in the mail.
If you’ve been wrongly identified as a second homeowner, you’ll need to fill out and sign a Statement of Residence form.
Send your materials to the County Assessor. Even better, go to Coalville (the county seat) and talk to the staff at the assessor’s office in person. You can find the contact info for the Summit County assessor online here.
Don’t have a case for lower property taxes? Remember that you’re stocking the coffers of our community. Your taxes go to support our schools, fire department, and other important services, which in turn increase your property’s value.
And if you have any questions or need help finding comparable properties to support your case, please reach out to me. I’m happy to walk you through the art of how to appeal your property taxes anytime.